JPMorgan Chase buys payments tech from MCX, which was shelved last year

Shopper with smartphone
MCX was created in 2012 by retailers including Walmart, Best Buy and Target, and had hoped to launch a mobile wallet, loyalty and coupon platform under the CurrentC brand last year at more than 100,000 locations. But the effort never grew beyond a pilot program in Columbus, Ohio.

JPMorgan Chase said it will acquire MCX’s mobile payments technology to expand its own digital wallet offering.

MCX was created in 2012 by retailers including Walmart, Best Buy and Target, and had hoped to launch a mobile wallet, loyalty and coupon platform under the CurrentC brand last year at more than 100,000 locations. But the effort never grew beyond a pilot program in Columbus, Ohio, and the consortium shelved a planned nationwide rollout last May after Walmart broke away to pursue its own mobile payments service.

Like CurrentC, JPMorgan’s Chase Pay uses QR codes that are scanned at the point of sale to conduct transactions. Offerings such as Apple Pay and Samsung Pay use tap-and-pay NFC technology.

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MCX’s network became a “premier launch partner” for Chase Pay more than a year ago, JPMorgan Chase said, and its technology can connect to Chase Pay seamlessly, according to the company.

“When we think about ‘fintech,’ we go through a ‘build/buy/partner’ evaluation to decide how we can get to market most efficiently,” said Jennifer Roberts, head of Chase Pay, in a press release.  “MCX has been an important partner, and their technology complements ours, so we’re thrilled to deepen our relationships with the merchant community through the purchase of this technology. This will help us get to market faster.”

The transaction is expected to close in the coming weeks. Terms of the deal weren't disclosed.

Chase Pay launched in November with Best Buy and several other merchants, and MCX partners including Walmart, Shell, Phillips 66 and Wakefern will support the system “over the next year or more,” JPMorgan Chase said.

Mobile payments have long failed to live up to a tremendous amount of hype in the U.S., of course, but some analysts insist the segment is still positioned to gain significant traction in the coming years. The research firm eMarketer recently predicted that the market for U.S. proximity mobile payments will more than double this  year, reaching $62.49 billion, and will exceed $314 billion by 2020, surpassing U.S. mobile commerce retail sales made via smartphones and total U.S. mobile travel sales.

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